To The Mother With The High Needs Baby
If you’re a mother of a high needs baby, I want you to know you’re not alone. I completely understand you. It feels like a dark and lonely time, but there are people, who get it. I get it! And, in some ways, it gets better!
Dear Mama Struggling with Her High Needs Baby,
I’m guilty of having watched from a distance as you tried, and failed, to console your baby. Though I tried not to stare, I failed at times. I’m pretty sure I saw you glimpse my way as I quickly tried to turn away. I tried to pretend as though I didn’t notice what you were dealing with. At the time, I thought what you needed was to feel as though no one noticed.
Before you looked my way, I saw, in your face, the sheer exhaustion and look of defeat only a mother who’s been there understands. I felt as though someone was replaying a video of my early years with my daughter. I felt what you were feeling in that very moment … a little (or a lot) defeated.
Whether or not you fed your baby, she was angry. Whatever was on her plate didn’t seem to be what she expected. She didn’t want to eat. Then, when she wanted to eat, you weren’t fast enough.
If there were thought bubbles above you, I’m pretty sure one of them would have been in the form of a question: “Am I a good mom?”
To the Mom with the Tired High Need Baby
I saw you again. This time, your baby was tired. I could see it in his face. But, he was fighting it. The stimulation from being out of the home was too exciting to miss. This, of course, meant that he was crankier than normal.
I saw you look around, hoping no one was staring. You looked ashamed. I could sense you were questioning yourself.
I think you saw me. That was embarrassing. Whatever you were thinking, I promise I was not being smug or judgmental.
Then, I saw you wrestling the demands of your toddler. No matter what you did or said, she wasn’t forgetting whatever it was she had her heart set on. You couldn’t distract her, not even with something as unreasonable or irresponsible as ice cream for lunch.
I’m sorry I didn’t approach you. Looking back, I realize I should not have pretended to not noticed. Instead, I should have talked to you. I should have told you I recognized you were doing your best. Having been in your shoes, I should have known that a few encouraging words was exactly what you needed.
I’ve seen you stare at the quiet and content babies. You were wondering how those moms got so lucky. Or, you wondered if they drugged their babies. You can’t decide if you’re jealous of what they have or if you are simply glad someone has it easy. Sometimes you secretly wish you could pawn your kids off on the lucky, unsuspecting mom with the easy babies. I mean, how many of your lucky friends have said, “Oh, I’d LOVE to watch your baby” after you lament about the full day of screaming (both yours and baby’s). You’d love to wipe their smug grins off their faces and give them a figurative kick in the ovaries.
I know those thoughts because I’ve had them myself. As a mom of a high-needs baby … make that two, I’d never suggest my thoughts were the most logical or kind. Of course, I’m happy for moms who have normal babies. I wouldn’t really wish this hell on another mother because I don’t wish it for myself.
I’m sorry for not having offered a hand. I would have given anything for anyone to step in and offer anything to help me through one of those moments. I would have given anything for a hug or a shoulder to try on during just one of the many moments in a single day. An encouraging word to remind me I would survive another day would have been welcomed.
Perhaps if a stranger who had been there before could have told me they lived through it, I would have felt less unsure of myself. And that’s exactly what I wish I had remembered to tell you.
You aren’t alone. And, I will try to be more mindful of your needs in the future. Here are my encouraging words to the mothers I’ve neglected. But, I will work harder from this point to help when I see the need.